Cycling Visionaries Awards – Project Details

Bicycles for Life

Bicycles for Life

Through the national citizen-led network ‘La Ciudad Verde’, we promote cycling as a vital component of urban sustainability. We depend on academic evidence but understand it must be sexy to all. Thus, we lead creative initiatives that allow for citizens to “get their hands dirty”. With Bicycles for Life, we have instituted September 22 as the yearly DIY bicycle lane day in Colombia.

Cycling continues to be one of the most dangerous transport modes in Colombian cities. Although pedestrians and motorcyclists contribute with the largest number of total yearly deaths, when analyzing deaths per number of daily trips, it is cyclists who end up being the most negatively affected. For example, last year in Medellín, we saw a rate of 28 bicycle deaths/100.000 inhabitants (when considering the total number of deaths divided by the total number of daily trips). This is much higher than the numbers for motorcyclists (21), and pedestrians (8).

As such, we decided to start a long-term, multidimensional campaign to position the need for better urban cycling public policies framed under the concept of ‘life’ (‘Bicis Por La Vida’). This slogan coincides tangentially with the official Medellín City Government slogan: ‘Un Hogar Para La Vida’ (City for Life). Via this campaign, we target specific city council members with data, proposals, and ideas to generate pro-cycling legislation, we design tributes for cyclists who die in traffic accidents, and have converted September 22 into the yearly DIY bicycle lane day in Colombia.

Last September 22 we managed to create cycle lanes simultaneously in 6 Colombian cities: Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Popayán, and Tunja. We framed this activity as a purely artistic citizen-led expression aimed at generating debate about the urgent need for better cycling infrastructure and cycle promotion programs. By no means do we intend to substitute the authority of any of the Colombian local governments, and have always asked for all due permissions and followed the legal norms. The success of the Bicycles for Life initiative is evidenced by the attached pictures and videos.

As a multi-city grassroots network, ‘La Ciudad Verde’ has been able to overcome seemingly intractable obstacles that complex local political systems can present and is effectively helping convert academic evidence into citizen action in favor of urban sustainability.

‘La Ciudad Verde’ has a solid presence in 6 Colombian regions. Apart from local teams in these regions, we have built a national academic committee, composed by expert researchers and professors in various topics of urban sustainability. As an innovative, citizen-led initiative, we depend actively on the use of ICTs and social networks; a niche that we have managed to successfully pioneer slowly in our country to promote urban cycling as a vital component of sustainable cities.

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